5 September 2005 - Zen Internet, a leading UK ISP (Internet Service Provider), has enabled Hospital Radio Perth to transmit outside broadcasts from the nearby Perth Concert Hall to up to 2,000 patients across two large regional hospitals, by providing free activation and a year's free broadband connection to its ZenADSL Home 500 service.
John Watson, Chairman of Hospital Radio Perth, and Chief Executive of the Hospital Broadcasting Association, explained: "To our knowledge, this is the first time any hospital broadcasting station has used broadband to take content from the outside world in this way. Because of the construction of the new concert hall, which has a seamless roof that was unable to take any embellishments such as dishes or aerials, we were unable to use our usual FM antenna. The concert hall's technical staff suggested routing a broadband signal, and this is where Zen Internet provided valuable assistance."
The broadband connection has already become extremely important to the radio station, even before the concert hall is officially opened to the public in September. It has enabled staff to remotely ensure, via the Internet, that music is available 24-hours a day to patients, even when no presenters are available in person, ensuring a steady and organised output. The same remote control link also allows commentators broadcasting live from football matches at the local St Johnstone FC to remotely switch off this music output, start the football coverage from the stadium, and then switch back. Explained Watson: "We'll be able to do this at any outside broadcast, wherever we can access an Internet connection. So for example we'll be able to provide commentary from any sporting event, from any stadium, as long as we have the connection."
The radio station is also using the Zen broadband connection to remotely monitor its 24-hour music system, and to synchronise the output with the Atomic Clock in Rugby, used by all radio stations in the UK to seamlessly pull in the news from IRN on the hour.
"We used to be able to do this using an ugly aerial which was very unreliable," said Watson. "The service Zen is providing is allowing us to achieve so many things for our patients. We're looking forward to using it in the future to expand our audience to the more remote hospitals in Perthshire; we have the potential ability to broadcast to community and 'cottage' hospitals in the future via broadband, and could potentially reach 10 or more locations."
Stephen Warburton, commercial manager, Zen Internet, said: "We are proud to be supporting such a worthy cause and it's good to see such innovative use of the technology. The range of programming that will be available to patients in the area will be vast, thanks to the broadband signal. They'll be able to listen to anything from opera to orchestras, comedy to choral societies, rock concerts to children's music and a huge range of sporting events. The concert hall is technically linked to the town's theatre, so any arts festival or theatre productions will also be available to patients. It's a significant step forward in hospital radio broadcasting and we're proud to be able to help make it a reality."